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Making Tracks

Fox 005

It was overcast and snowy this morning; a wet, sticky, heavy snow. The snow fell so fast, in two hours my tracks were completely covered. The snow stopped by 11:00 am, it was still overcast though. The air seemed still and peaceful, not a breeze stirred. By noon, however, the breeze arrived, blowing fiercely the new snow, reducing visibility. Again the weather changed mid afternoon. The breeze became very slight and the clouds rolled away, the sun shined brightly. The temperature was around twenty degrees Fahrenheit. For a moment it was a beautiful day. I decided to take advantage of the warm temperatures, sunshine, and lack of gale force winds. I took a walk with our dogs, Spencer and Allie.

Fox 010 We went pass the sheds, beyond the greenhouse and calves, with intent to round the far shed. However, Spencer caught a scent that distracted him. He went into the shed barking. Allie followed at a quicker pace than I. Walking into the shed, I found Spencer was barking at a gray fox. (But the story of the fox is its own, which I will tell later.) After quite a bit of scolding, I was able to get Spencer and Allie to leave the shed.

Fox 013

We rounded the east end of the shed, walking along the fence line. I was fascinated by tracks. Fox, rabbit, I even marveled at the dogs’ tracks. A few clouds began to fill the sky again. The sun played peek-a-boo behind them. We began to gradually walk uphill, as rounded the corner of the fence.  As we left the protection of trees and the shed the wind was more than a slight breeze. Snow blew across the hard crust, sounding like sugar being poured. It had the look of sugar too, small, granular, and white. Unlike sugar though, it was cold and wet as it smacked into my face. It was spectacular to watch a gust of wind push a cloud of snow across the field, rising like steam.

Fox 032

Soon my ears were freezing despite my hat. Spencer and Allie, wandering up ahead of me, seemed unfazed by the cold breeze. The snow had been soft and nearly silent in the yard as my feet landed on it. Out the in the open and higher on the hill, it crunched underfoot. Some places the snow was so hard and solid it felt like what I imagine a glacier would feel like. Walking on the hard crust, I leave no print in the snow. After a little while walking on top the snow, I sink into softer snow a couple of inches. Then again, I walk on top of the snow, and then suddenly, I sink up past my knees. I feel as if I am wading through the snow. After several steps, moving slowly and carefully, I step once again on top of the snow for a few steps. I try to make my steps lighter to stay atop.

Fox 070

I sat down upon the snow to observe dead plants poking through. Grasses were bending from the force of the wind, and bobbed back and forth. Places where the grass was tall and thick caught the blowing snow, keeping it from blowing further. A few milkweed plants also captured my attention. Seeds clung to the inside of a pod as the wind tried to knock them loose, dispersing the seed. The milkweed seed and pod fascinated me; I observed them for a few more moments.

Fox 087Carefully I continue my walk. Again I sank in deep. Back and forth between wading and gliding on top the snow, so often I was soon exhausted by the struggle. The dogs were having just as much trouble. They sank up to their chins and were practically swimming through it. I plunged onward for several more feet, desiring to visit the woods. Sinking in above my knees a few more times, I nearly fall into the snow. Somewhere between sitting and lying in the snow, I watch the dogs in their similar struggle. It was just too much. On top of it my ears, cheeks, nose, and chin were numb. I told the dogs we were heading back; a visit to the woods would have to wait. We followed our prints back to the shed and along the driveway to the house.

–          January 30, 2014

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